Sankei column by Okabe Noburu suggesting Japanese language tests for foreign correspondent visas, to weed out their “anti-Japan” biases

Here’s an interesting column by one of our favorite newspapers, the Sankei Shinbun, famous for its anti-foreigner slants. Their columnist, Okabe Noburu, Senior Reporter for Diplomatic Issues, links a lack of language ability in foreign reporters to their tendency to hold “anti-Japan” biases. In a meandering column that brings in all sorts of anti-immigration slants itself, Okabe finally reaches the conclusion that maybe Japan might make language tests a condition for visas for foreign correspondents. That way they’ll have a “correct” view of Japan. Without any intended irony, it seems that Okabe, who seems to claim competency in English (enough to pick on ethnic accents in English), holds biased views himself despite.

Okabe: After the war, because English people don’t like manual labor, they brought in immigrants from former colonies, such as Asia, Africa, and the West Indies, but recently there has been a huge influx of people from Eastern Europe and the Middle East, so British society’s multiculturalization and multiethnicification has been proceeding. The immigrant problem is one of a history of empire. The English spoken by this variety of races has several “country accents” mixed in, so it’s hard to understand. Even English has been hybridized.

When I applied for my visa I had to take an English test. As language ability had not been demanded of me as an exchange student in the 1990s or during my half-year posting in Russia in the 1990s, this struck me as odd. However, after being dispatched, I came to the painful realization that understanding England meant first acquiring the language.

Before being posted, I was a member of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan. I was pained to see foreign reporters who couldn’t function in Japanese broadcasting their “anti-Japan” slants to the world. How about Japan making Japanese language ability a condition for foreign correspondents getting a visa? It might lead to a correct understanding of Japan.

Japan Times: Inflammatory articles (such as Sono Ayako’s “Japartheid” Sankei column) aren’t helping mags’ circulation numbers

An excellent round-up article by Mark Schreiber in the Japan Times featured some analysis of the media ripples following Sono Ayako’s column advocating a Japan version of South African Apartheid. He has a good look at not only the domestic reaction to this xenophobic proposal for state-enfranchised segregation (surprisingly favorable towards it, especially in a younger-age group!), but also the battle for Japan’s soul through control of the historical narrative. He also gives us some statistics on how the most common denominator for fanning xenophobia though the media — profit motive — doesn’t seem to be working: Sales of the scandalous Weeklies are significantly down across the board. Then it concludes with Japan’s rapidly declining press freedoms as measured worldwide, and offers the lack of trust in the media as a possible cause for people not buying it because they don’t buy into it. It’s an insightful piece into how Japan’s media-manufactured national mentalities are descending into a Pravda-style official groupthink.

JT: Remarks on the [Sano] article appeared in Shukan Post (March 6), Asahi Geino (March 5), Flash (March 10) and Weekly Playboy (March 9). Sono also defended her column in the Shukan Bunshun (Feb. 26). While the general tone of the responses was supportive of Sono’s right to express her opinions, Weekly Playboy went the extra mile and surveyed 100 adults between the ages of 20 and 79. When asked about her stance, 42.3 percent of respondents replied, “I can understand what she’s saying, in part.” This exceeded the 36.6 percent who responded, “It’s understandable for her to be criticized” and 21 percent who saw no problem with the column’s contents.

Debito.org quoted in South China Morning Post about Sankei Shinbun’s Sono Ayako advocating Japartheid

SCMP: [Sono’s] comments have provoked anger among human-rights activists. “It’s a stunning cognitive dissonance. After calling the apartheid system ‘racial discrimination’ in her column, she advocates it,” said Debito Arudou, a naturalised Japanese who was born in the United States and has become a leading rights activist after being refused access to a public bath in Hokkaido because he is foreign.

“Is it no longer racial discrimination in a Japanese context?” he asked. “Or does she think racial discrimination is not a bad thing? I hope – and I stress hope – this will be dismissed as the wistful musings of a very old lady who is way out of touch,” he added. “But she occupies a position of authority, and I fear her attitudes are but the tip of the iceberg in Japan’s ultra-conservative ruling elite.”…

Sankei columnist Sono Ayako advocates separation of NJ residential zones by race in Japan, cites Apartheid South Africa as example (UPDATED)

Here’s another one for the Debito.org archives. Sono Ayako, famous conservative novelist, has just had a ponderous opinion piece published in the reactionary right-wing Sankei Shinbun daily newspaper. This is the same newspaper that last decade serialized professional bigot Ishihara Shintaro’s “Nihon Yo” columns (which, among other things, saw Chinese as criminal due to their “ethnic DNA” (minzokuteki DNA)). This is what the Sankei is getting up to now: Publishing opinion pieces advocating Japan institute an Apartheid system for foreign residents, separating their living areas by races. Seriously:

SONO: “I have come to believe, after 20-30 years knowing about the actual situation in the Republic of South Africa, that when it comes to residential zones, the Whites, Asians, and Blacks should be separated and live in different areas [in Japan].”

She describes how Black Africans have come to despoil the areas (particularly infrastructurally) that were reserved for Whites in the RSA, and feels that “immigrants” (imin) would do the same thing to Japan. And there’s lots more to mine from a remarkable capsule of bigotry and ethnic overgeneralizations that only cantankerous eldsters, who live in intellectual sound chambers because they are too old to be criticized properly anymore, can spew. Huffpost Japan and original article follows:

COMMENT: While I hope (and I stress: hope) that nobody is going to take seriously the rants of a octogenarian who has clearly lost touch with the modern world, it is distressing to see that this was not consigned to the regular netto-uyoku far-right internet denizens who regularly preach intolerance and spew xenophobic bile as a matter of reflex. Shame on you, Sankei, for adding credibility to this article by publishing it. Let’s hope (and I stress again: hope) that it is not a bellwether of public policy to come.

UPDATE FEB 13: A protest letter in Japanese and English from the Africa-Japan Forum hits the media, demanding a retraction and an apology. Enclosed.

UPDATE FEB 14: South African Ambassador to Japan protests Sono Ayako’s pro-Apartheid column
<産経新聞>曽野氏コラム、南ア大使も抗議文 人種隔離許容(毎日新聞) – Yahoo!ニュース

Sankei Sports etc: J soccer player Nakamura Yuuki quits Slovakian club, feels victimized by “racial discrimination”; my, how ironic!

We have an interesting case of a Japanese sports player quitting an overseas soccer team claiming “racial discrimination” (jinshu sabetsu). Nakamura Yuuki, formerly of Slovak football club MSK Rimaska Sobota, has been reported in the Japanese press as returning to Japan last September, blogging about his treatment. But look closely. I have included three English-language articles and translated two Japanese articles for comparison

AFP: […] In an online blog entry dated Wednesday, Nakamura [Yuuki], 25, said he returned to Japan because of racism that had even involved some of his own teammates. “Unfortunately, I have come home because I was subjected to racism at the club I belonged to, Rimavska Sobota, and could not live there any more,” the footballer wrote.

Calling out his name before and after matches, some club supporters raised their middle finger to Nakamura “with a look of furious anger”. “No teammates helped me. There were even some players who joined in (the harassment),” he added. “It wasn’t normal anymore, and the team even received some sort of threats. They cannot be responsible (for my safety), so I came home,” he said.

Submitter AS: Reading through the article and the blog quoted in the article, I can’t find anything that clearly shows racial discrimination. People giving him the finger? With no context, that could mean anything from racial discrimination to thinking he’s a useless player.

COMMENT FROM DEBITO: I just find it interesting the difference in treatment in the media and public argument. Nakamura essentially has a nervous breakdown due to the taunts, and then both the Japanese and overseas media report it as racial discrimination, put it in a larger context, and don’t question Nakamura’s claims. Yet when we get the same kind of jeering in Japan of NJ (Shimizu S-Pulse’s Coach Ghotbi being accused in 2011 by supporters in a banner of being connected to Iranian nuclear weapons; or official-level jeers: Japan’s Ekiden running leagues justifying extra hurdles for NJ athletes by claiming that sports are only interesting for Japanese fans if Japanese win them; or claims by Japan’s rugby union not winning because they have “too many foreign players” (including naturalized Japanese); and how about Tokyo Governor Ishihara’s 2012 remarks about NJ judo Olympians being “beasts” spoiling “Japan’s sport”?), nobody calls it “racial discrimination” in the Japanese press (if the foreign press pay any attention to it at all). Racial discrimination only seems to happen overseas.

Where is FIFA or any other international sports league to decry racism when this sort of thing happens in Japan? Buried in cultural relativism. You can see that even more strongly in the comments to the Japan Today article cited above, which are overwhelmingly sympathetic to Nakamura. I don’t doubt that Nakamura had readjustment problems and decided not to stay because he wasn’t comfortable overseas. But imagine the reaction if a NJ player in the J-League were to quit, justifying it by saying “fans gave me an angry look” or “people gave me the finger”. He’d be told by commenters to grow a pair, and would have bloggers both in English and Japanese questioning not only the veracity of his claims but also his mental stability. That’s not happening in Nakamura’s case. Now why? Are we that programmed to holding Japan to a different standard?

Mainichi/Kyodo: NJ crime down again, but once again only reported in English and apparently not in J Mainichi, Asahi, Yomiuri, or Sankei

Here we have the biannual report on NJ crime, as always used to justify further prevention and crackdowns on NJ as potential criminals (justifying all manner of NPA budgets and racial profiling). But the news this time is good, in that NJ crime is down. Significantly so.

Good. But here’s the thing: If it’s bad news (i.e., foreign crime goes up), then it gets splashed all over the place and a media panic ensues about a reemergent foreign crime wave. However, when is good news (i.e., foreign crime goes down), one of three things happen:

1) The Japanese police find some way to portray it as a rise,
2) The Japanese media find some way to headline it as a rise (while even, famously, depicting it as a fall in the English headline),
3) They ignore it completely. Foreigners can only ever be news if they’re criminals.

To support this last assertion, look how the above article was featured in the Mainichi online only in English, as a copy of a Kyodo wire. And doing a Google news search in Japanese, (search terms gaikokujin hanzai and the newspaper title), I could not find a similar article on this news on the Mainichi, Asahi, Yomiuri, or Sankei Shimbun sites (search as of February 23, 2012).

Instead, you get Japanese sites, for example Zakzak News below, concurrently and ironically talking about how dangerous Japanese society has become due to foreign crime (despite it going down), and saying how having a “kokumin bangou” to identify all citizens by number is now indispensable (since, as Zakzak says below, foreigners now speak Japanese!!). Fine, have that conversation if you want, but don’t blame it on foreign crime.

This perpetual criminalization of foreigners in Japan is nothing short of hate speech. On an official scale. And you get a regular fit of it twice a year regardless of what NJ residents do (or don’t do).

Sankei: MOJ proposes easier visas for importing “higher quality” NJ labor; neglects to offer NJ stronger civil or labor rights

The Sankei reports on May 25 that the Ministry of Justice will be loosening some of its strictures on NJ visas (the Sankei uses the word nohouzu in its headline; I’m not 100% sure of the nuance but it sounds like “a wild and endless expansion of favorable treatment regarding NJ entry visas”; rather snotty, but that’s the Sankei for ya).

The new Immigration policy is directed at NJ with very high skills (koudo jinzai — a good idea) and their families (who will also be allowed to work; wow, that’s a change!), will have a points system for evaluation (another good idea), will offer longer visa periods (5 years), and will loosen the specificity between work visas. It’s being touted as a means to make Japan more appealing to NJ labor (you had better!).

Sounds like a step in the right direction. But it’s still 中途半端. What’s missing is GOJ guaranteeing some degree of protection of labor and civil rights after NJ get here. And what about qualifications? Just try practicing law, medicine, or most other licensed skills in Japan now without going through the rigmarole of domestic certification, with walls so high (cf. the NJ nurses from Indonesia and The Philippines over the past few years) that almost all NJ applicants fail (and, magically, have to return home as usual after three years, just like any other revolving-door “Trainee” or “Researcher” NJ laborer).

This isn’t the first time a points system etc. has been floated (only to die the death of a thousand meddling bureaucrats) either. I guess the mandarins are realizing what a fix Japan is in without NJ labor. But if this kind of policy is going to happen at all, the almighty MOJ has to be the one proposing it. Then perhaps the waters will part for Moses. Let’s wait and see.

But this is on balance “good” news. But not “great” news unless the GOJ also does something to force domestic actors to treat NJ nicely. Which is doubtful.

Yomiuri, Sankei, FNN: Sakai Noriko’s husband fingers NJ dealers as source of their drug habit

It’s all over the news these days, probably receiving more press than even when Michael Jackson died. Celebrity Sakai Noriko (and her husband)’s arrest for drug use. The word “junkie” has certainly entered the lexicon.

The latest: Despite Noriko’s yakuza connections, her husband is saying foreigners supplied their drug habits.

Turning the keyboard to some concerned NJ residents of Japan, who poignantly foresee not only hypocrisy, but a reinforced spate of NJ crackdowns for drugs…

Sankei: Police “cleaning up” Roppongi of shitsukoi NJ

An interesting article from May 26’s Sankei, reporting about how enjoyment of Tokyo’s Roppongi party district is being spoiled by over-persistent street touts (a sentiment I somewhat agree with, but…), who lead people to bars that even the US Embassy is cautioning against. So we have the new “Clean Town Roppongi Action Group” launching into the breach, putting up cautionary billets in English and Japanese (advertising “punishments”), organizing patrols and volunteer policing groups, and advocating “safety for each resident” (fortunately rendered as juumin, not kokumin). All this, says the article, justifiable under the new controversial Tokyo City ordinance banning “public disturbances”, passed last April.

Sankei: manual to help NJ “illegal overstays” evade police: 「不法滞在者向け職質逃れマニュアル出回る」

Mark in Yayoi translates yet another inflammatory article from the Sankei Shinbun, warning police that even overfriendly foreigners may be suspicious, thanks to some mail-in underground manual on how to evade police ID Checkpoints:

“We’ll teach you how to get away when the police stop you on the street!” This is the catch copy for a manual that is now circulating, instructing illegal aliens on how to escape from police questioning. Supposedly it was sold through newspapers and free magazines aimed at Chinese and Koreans in Japan. Organized Crime Bureau No. 1 of the National Police Agency has obtained this manual, and is sending warnings to each police station. The police are strengthening their vigilance as these newspapers, carrying illegal advertisements, are becoming breeding grounds for crime [hanzai no onshou]…

“Here is another interesting technique. File a ‘lost item report’ at all the police boxes in the area. Then, on the same day, go to one of them and get the report erased, saying that ‘the person who found my wallet got in touch with me’. In the evening, when you pass that police box, greet them [aisatsu] yourself and say ‘my wallet has been returned’. By saying hello to them three times a day, they’ll think of you as one of the area’s ‘polite foreigners [reigi tadashii gaikokujin da na]’, and you’ll be able to walk by without fear.”

The Bureau has circulated an internal memo to police stations warning that illegal aliens are using these methods to escape detection, and have advised the police to take care in questioning people [shokumu shitsumon jou no chuui o yobikaketa]. There is no applicable law, however, making sale of this manual a crime.

産經:「青い目の人形」に“市民権” 愛媛・西予市。Sankei: Old dolls get “City Citizenship”. Now how about NJ residents?

産經新聞  愛媛県西予市の市立狩江、俵津両小学校に保管されている「青い目の人形」3体が住民登録されることになり、18日、市役所の窓口で人形それぞれに特別住民票が交付される。日米友好の証として米国から日本に渡ってきた人形。昭和という激動の時代を経て約80年ぶりに“市民権”を得ることになった。

Humor: Sankei Sports Pure-Ai Keitai dating service advertisement

I still don’t feel like writing anything serious at the moment, so until that feeling passes I’ll write for fun. Such as on this great advertisement from Sankei Sports depicting two “case studies” of young marriageable people in their twenties, and the lives they lead until they get hooked up through this keitai dating service. It’s hilarious Japanicana, contrasting an essentially lonely and hopeless otaku salaryman with an anime-cute single woman with a surprisingly rich and whimsical life.

Sankei snipes at Chinese workers, comparing Pension System temp inputters with toxic gyouza

Get a load of this. The Sankei trowels on the insinuations–by comparing the Chinese gyouza poisonings with Chinese temporary workers inputting data into the troubled Japanese pension system. As if letting in Chinese workers to do a Japanese’s work is like letting in toxic gyouza. Whatta headline. True colors disguised as wry humor by the good ol’ Sankei Shinbun. Somebody reel in the editor…

Himu Case: Tokyo District Court orders Sankei Shinbun to pay NJ damages for reporting erroneous al-Qaeda link

Some good news for a change: A Bangladeshi by the name of Islam Himu was accused during the al-Qaeda Scare of 2005 of being part of a terrorist cell. And the media, particularly the Sankei, reported him by name as such. Detained for more than a month by the cops, he emerged to find his reputation in tatters, his business rent asunder, and his life irrevocably changed. This is why you don’t report rumor as fact in the established media. And as we saw in the Sasebo Shootings a few days ago, the papers and the powers that be won’t take reponsibility even when they get it wrong and destroy somebody’s life. So Mr Himu sued the Sankei. And won. Congratulations. A good precedent. Now if only could get the Japanese police to take responsibility when they overdo things. Well, we can dream. News article, referential Japan Times piece, and other background on Debito.org follows.

Yomiuri & Nikkei trumpet 5 NJ snagged by Fingerprinting system. Sankei says FP system not snagger.

Here is a link to three articles in Japanese trumpeting the success of the new Fingerprinting system–all done in the middle of the night so as to make the morning editions. Hey, we caught ’em, see how the system is working and how much we need it? Despite the fact that it was also reported yesterday that nobody was refused at all.

That’s right, actually. Read beyond the Sankei headline. Three of the five were caught for funny passports, the other two for other reasons left unclear but at Immigration’s discretion. Which means bagging these five was unrelated to the Fingerprint policy. In other words, this sort of thing happens on a daily basis and is not news. Unless there is a political reason for making it so. Guess what that political reason is. The fix is really in.

Sankei Shinbun on Fingerprinting equipment SNAFUs

Hi Blog. Here’s a funny article. In high school psychology class, we learned about a mental process called “projection”, where a batter blames the bat instead of himself for the strike-out. Well, Immigration today was a paragon of projection. Maybe the system is just no damn good from the start. Or maybe it’s just plain …

Japan Times JBC 114 DIRECTOR’S CUT of “Top Ten for 2018” column, with links to sources

Now that the clicks have died down on my latest Japan Times JBC column of January 28, 2019 (thanks for putting it in the Top Ten trending articles once again), what follows is the first final draft I submitted to the Japan Times for editing on December 29, 2018.  I blog this version because a lot of information is lost (inevitably) as we cut the word count from 2800 to 1600 words. (I generally put everything in the first final draft, then cut it down to fit the page; that way we don’t overlook anything and have to backtrack.)

People have been asking what got cut (and yes, the original version mentions Michael Woodford and Jeff Kingston), so the piece below is quite a bit different from what appeared in the Japan Times here (meaning it shouldn’t draw away any readers from the JT version; in fact, it will probably spur more views from readers wanting to compare). Also, having links to sources matter, so here it all is, including my regular acerbic tone.

Quoted in South China Morning Post article: “Why is racism so big in Japan?”

SCMP: The hand-written sign in the entrance of a cosmetics shop in Japan might have been shocking to many Chinese, but to some observers its message was all too familiar. The sign, which said Chinese people were not allowed to enter, caused outrage when images of it were posted on Chinese websites last month.

Within 24 hours, the store’s owner Pola Inc ordered the sign to be removed and vowed to suspend operations at the outlet. Pola acknowledged the notice had caused “unpleasant feelings and inconvenience to many people” and said it would deal with the situation “gravely”. In contrast with the anger in China, the incident attracted little coverage in Japan and received only brief mention in the few media outlets that covered it at all.

That seeming lack of interest doesn’t surprise Debito Arudou, a human-rights activist who was born David Schofill in California and became a naturalised Japanese citizen in 2000. Discrimination is a sad fact of life in Japan, according to Arudou, and if anything, it is becoming more frequent – and more blatant…

Reuters: “Who is Kazuo Ishiguro?” Japan asks, but celebrates Nobel author as its own. Very symptomatic of Japan’s ethnostate.

About a month ago, Briton Kazuo Ishiguro, who writes exclusively in English, won the Nobel Prize for Literature.  Predictably, Japan’s media boasted that a third Japanese writer (with the caveat that he was Japan-born) had won a Nobel.  Well, not really.  Imagine, say, Germany claiming as their own all the Nobel-laureate scientists of the Deutsch diaspora living abroad, even those without actual German citizenship, for however many generations? 

In Japan, this highly-questionable social science is hardly problematized.  As noted below by Reuters, a similar claim was laid to Shuji “Slave” Nakamura, inventor of the LED, who due to his foul treatment by Japan’s scientific and academic communities quite actively disavows his connections to Japan (in fact, he urges them to escape for their own good).  Same with Yoichiro Nambu, who got Nobelled as a team in 2008 for Physics, who had been living in the US since the 1960s, was a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, and had even relinquished Japanese citizenship and taken American.

I suspect this is for massaging a rather insecure national pride.  Also because it is largely unquestioned under the concept of Japan as an ethnostate, where nationality is directly linked to blood ties.  That is to say, anyone who is of Japanese blood can be claimed as a member of the Japanese societal power structure (i.e., a Wajin).  And the converse is indeed true:  Even people who take Japanese citizenship who lack the requisite Wajin blood are treated as foreign:  Just ask Japan’s “naturalized-but-still-foreign” athletes in, say, the sumo wrestling or rugby communities.  

It’s a pretty racist state of affairs.  One I discuss in depth in acclaimed book “Embedded Racism”(Lexington Books, 2015).  And, as I argue in its closing chapter, one that will ultimately lead to the downfall of a senescent Japan.  

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEB 19, 2017

Table of Contents:
MEDIA NORMALIZING DISCRIMINATION
1) JT: “Japan’s shared dwellings are evolving to meet diverse needs of tenants”: Basically NJ tenants on same level as pets
2) Reuters: Japan’s NJ workers reach record 1 million; but fine print overlooked, e.g., conflating “Trainees” with “Workers”
3) Kyodo: Trainee program, small firms drive rise in Japan’s foreign worker numbers. More data, same misleading gloss.
4) Wash Post & BBC: “Japan gets first sumo champion in 19 years”. Really? What oddly racist triumphalism from foreign press!
5) Ueno Chizuko, fabled feminist Sociology Prof. Emeritus at Tokyo U, argues in newspaper column that Japan will never accept foreigners, and Japanese should just decline into poverty together. Geriatrically rigid rigor.
MISC
6) Japan Times: Group drawing on long-term NJ residents to help newcomers navigate life in Japan
7) Problematic Fukuoka Pref. Police sign warning against “Foreign Travelers in Rental Cars”
8 ) Pacific Affairs journal book review of “Embedded Racism”: “a timely and important contribution to social and scholarly debates about racial discrimination in Japan”
… and finally…
9) Japan Times JBC Column 104: The Top Ten Human Rights Events of 2016

Ueno Chizuko, fabled feminist Sociology Prof. Emeritus at Tokyo U, argues in newspaper column that Japan will never accept foreigners, and Japanese should just decline into poverty together. Geriatrically rigid rigor.

TG: “Chizuko Ueno, Japan’s most famous academic feminist, says [in a Chunichi Shinbun column on Feb. 11, National Foundation Day] there is no chance of reversing the decline in the birthdate; that at the same time Japanese society is inherently incapable of inter-cultural understanding; that therefore she opposes any move to liberalize immigration policy; and that the Japanese people should accept that they are going to gradually decline into poverty over the years to come.

“Hmm. I wonder what Hidenori Sakanaka, Arudou Debito and other FB friends think about this. She is a gadfly who likes to provoke, and you could read this as an attempt at satirical pessimism possibly. Or has she just lost the plot?”

Here’s what I say: I have often noticed that feminism in Japan is not “equality between the sexes” but “separate but equal” status between the sexes, inherently accepting that inequality is inevitable due to purported physical and emotional differences between men and women. Some things are “women’s work”, for example, and some things are men’s, and you’d better respect that order or else woe betide you for intruding.

Once you accept this kind of natural status quo, it becomes just as easy to accept that there should be “separate for foreigners in Japan” too, however “a foreigner” is defined. The problem is that most people accept without much question the “necessarily separate but unequal” mantra as well, since foreigners are not Japanese, by definition, and Japanese are told on a daily basis (no exaggeration) about the inherent differences between them. And therein lies the slow-drip mindset that over the years will eventually affect even the most intellectually-rigorous, as they get older and fossilized in their beliefs. You even find it in many very long-term foreigners in Japan, who will even argue that they deserve their own unequal status. Rigor becomes rigid. So to me, Ueno’s pontificating on the natural order of separation is a natural outcome of living in a society as hierarchical and segregated as Japan’s. I think with this article, she’d have a more comfortable cup of tea with the likes of Sankei columnist Sono Ayako, who on National Foundation Day exactly two years ago expressly praised South African Apartheid and advocated a similar system for Japan’s foreigners.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 3, 2016

Table of Contents:
THE OPPOSITION FACES OPPOSITION
1) JT: Democratic Party Leader Renho and the “pure blood” mythos (covered in detail in book “Embedded Racism”)
2) JT: Renho nationality furor exposes Japan’s deeply embedded gender bias
A GOOD MONTH FOR MEDIA APPEARANCES
3) Debito panelist on Al-Jazeera program “The Stream”: “The politics of identity in Japan” after Yoshikawa Priyanka’s pageant victory
4) ABC NewsRadio Australia, Japan in Focus: The winner of Miss World Japan, Yoshikawa Priyanka, prompts another racial debate. Interviews Debito
5) Deep in Japan Podcast, Debito Interview Pts. 2 and 3 on book “Embedded Racism” and issues of racial discrimination etc. in Japan
OLD-HAT
6) Discussion: Should I stay or should I go? What’s your personal threshold for staying in or leaving Japan?
7) Book “Embedded Racism” now discounted to $34.99 if bought through publisher directly, using promo code
… and finally…
8 ) Japan Times column Sept. 5, 2016: “JBC marks 100 columns and a million page views”

JT: Democratic Party Leader Renho and the “pure blood” mythos (covered in detail in book “Embedded Racism”)

JT: “It’s no coincidence that [opposition party leader Murata] Renho’s detractors are the same people who are against allowing a female emperor. “Pure blood” ideology is at the root of Yawata’s philosophy — the “scoop” about Renho’s dual nationality was merely a delivery device. The law means nothing to them because their faith is invested in an occult mythos about the unbroken Imperial line. [Journalist] Kosugi Misuzu insists these beliefs amount to “racism,” since they limit the rights of some people born and raised in Japan due to genetics. Asahi reported on July 6, 2014 — well before the Renho controversy — that the pure blood faction wants to kick out permanent Korean residents as well as anyone with dual citizenship by making all Japanese sign a loyalty oath. They are not just rightists, said the paper, they are “anachronisms.”

“[Former bureaucrat] Yawata Kazuro says Renho can’t be trusted because she doesn’t use her Japanese married name and gave her children names that “sound Chinese.” These value judgments should mean nothing in a democracy. Zakzak, another Sankei organ, adds to the din by saying that Japanese people do not like the idea of someone with dual citizenship “rising to the top.” What about best-selling Japanese-American singer Hikaru Utada and all those bicultural athletes at the Rio Olympics? For that matter, what about former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, who was allowed to settle here and escape prosecution in his native country by asserting his Japanese nationality?”

COMMENT: All of these issues, particularly the “pure blood” conceit, have been brought up passim in book “Embedded Racism: Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination in Japan”. Renho herself features prominently in the book (Chapter Seven), given that Japan’s racist politicians have questioned her loyalty many times before — for example when she was a Cabinet member in the previous DPJ government — simply because she’s to them a mudblood. And they can get away with it because the “pure blood” narrative is so strong.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 1, 2016

Table of Contents:
TIGHTENING THE NOOSE ON DOMESTIC DISSENT
1) ABC News Australia: Video on PM Abe’s secretive and ultra-conservative organization “Nippon Kaigi”
2) Sankei column by Okabe Noburu suggesting Japanese language tests for foreign correspondent visas, to weed out their “anti-Japan” biases
3) JT on corporate threats to student activists’ futures (SEALDs in particular); this is probably why they suddenly turned craven
4) O’Day in APJ: Japan Focus: “Differentiating SEALDs from Freeters, and Precariats: the politics of youth movements in contemporary Japan”
TRAGIC UPDATES
5) Suraj Case: Tokyo High Court rules Immigration Bureau not responsible for killing him during deportation
6) ALTs (“outsourced” English teachers) earning slave wages (or less) working for Japanese public schools
7) JT: Sakanaka argues success of ‘Abenomics’ hinges on immigration policy (old article from May 2014; not much has changed)
8 ) JT: Japan’s public baths hope foreign tourists and residents will keep taps running; oh, the irony!
TERRORISTIC XENOPHOBIA
9) Nagoya anonymous neighborhood poster warning of crime that “may have been committed by foreigners”: vigilantism that should be officially discouraged, but no.
10) Tangent: McNeill in No.1 Shimbun: “Into the Valley of the Trolls”: Is ignoring them really an effective strategy?
TRYING TO HELP
11) Asahi: Survey: Discrimination encountered by 42% of foreign residents in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward; Asahi wants NJ resident opinions
12) Asahi and JT: Osaka adopts Japan’s first anti-hate-speech ordinance
13) HJ on Mainichi article on “Preventing Illegal Hires of Foreigners”; what about campaigns to prevent illegal ABUSES of foreign workers?
14) Ben Shearon on RetireJapan, helping people living in Japan learn more about personal finance, investing, readying for retirement
… and finally…
15) My Japan Times JBC 95, “Osaka’s move on hate speech should be just the first step” Feb. 1, 2016

The Year in Quotes: “Much jaw-jaw about war-war” (my latest for the JT), Foreign Element column, Dec. 23, 2015

I love year-end roundups, and this year I was given the privilege of compiling the year in quotes. Fuller version follows with more quotes that didn’t make the cut and links to sources:

JT: The past year has seen a number of tensions and tugs-of-war, as conservatives promoted past glories and preservation of the status quo while liberals lobbied for unprecedented levels of tolerance. This year’s Community quotes of the year column will break with tradition by not giving a guided tour of the year through quotations, but rather letting the words stand alone as capsule testaments to the zeitgeist. Quotes follow:

“I cannot think of a strategic partnership that can exercise a more profound influence on shaping the course of Asia and our interlinked ocean regions more than ours. In a world of intense international engagements, few visits are truly historic or change the course of a relationship. Your visit, Mr. Prime Minister, is one.”
— Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe’s December trip to India, where agreements were reached on infrastructure investment (including a much-feted high-speed train), nuclear energy cooperation, classified intelligence sharing and military hardware sales to deter China from encroaching upon the Indian Ocean.

“Since taking office, I’ve worked to rebalance American foreign policy to ensure that we’re playing a larger and lasting role in the Asia Pacific — a policy grounded in our treaty alliances, including our treaty with Japan. And I’m grateful to Shinzo for his deep commitment to that alliance. He is pursuing a vision of Japan where the Japanese economy is reinvigorated and where Japan makes greater contributions to security and peace in the region and around the world.”
— U.S. President Barack Obama, during a joint press conference marking Abe’s visit to the United States in April, during which he became the first Japanese leader to address both houses of Congress.

“If Japan gets attacked, we have to immediately go to their aid. If we get attacked, Japan doesn’t have to help us.”
— Donald Trump, U.S. Republican presidential candidate, on the stump.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER AUGUST 2, 2015

Table of Contents:
THINKING ABOUT THE FUTURE FOR NJ WITH THE REACTIONARY-NATIONALIST ABE ADMINISTRATION
2) Discussion: Abe rams through Japan’s new security guidelines: How will this affect NJ and Visible Minorities in Japan?
3) Japan Times: Govt “Snitch Sites” being used to target Zainichi Koreans for harassment
4) Kyodo: “Overseas work, study seen as negative point for hiring anyone handling state secrets” Such as multiethnic Japanese?
5) Mainichi: “Not Japanese Enough?” Bog-standard article about Miss Japan Miyamoto Ariana’s fight against racial discrim in Japan, not in Japanese for J-audience

MISCELLANY
6) Update to Canada bank racism issue: Fascinating FB conversation gets me to capitulate
7) “Gaikokujin ja arimasen: An Analysis of the Interactive Construction and Contestation of Being a Foreigner in Japan”, an academic paper by Dr. Cade Bushnell analyzing the conversation I had with Yunohana management during Otaru Onsen Case
… and finally …
8 ) Japan Times Just Be Cause 89, “Media redraw battle lines in bid for reach”, on Fuji network’s acquisition of Japan Today.com, July 6, 2015

Japan Times Just Be Cause 89, “Media redraw battle lines in bid for global reach”, on Fuji network’s acquisition of Japan Today.com, July 6, 2015

Opening paragraphs: Something significant happened in April that attracted only desultory press coverage, so let’s give it some more. GPlus Media Co., which operates English-language websites Japan Today and GaijinPot, was sold to Fuji TV-Lab, a subsidiary of Fuji Media Holdings Inc. The Fuji Media group has the Fuji Television Network under its wing, as well as the conservative daily Sankei Shimbun as an affiliate.

This matters to Japan’s resident non-Japanese (NJ) communities. Fuji TV was recently caught fabricating subtitles falsely quoting South Korean commenters as “hating Japan” (Japan Times, June 29). That’s an incredibly dishonest thing for a nationwide broadcaster to do, especially when it may have a nasty impact on Japan’s Korean minorities.

However, the Sankei Shimbun as a newspaper I believe is no less nasty. Over the past 15 years, for example, they have run articles grossly exaggerating foreign crime (see “Generating The Foreigner Crime Wave”, Japan Times, Oct. 4, 2002), a column claiming that Chinese had criminal “ethnic DNA” (May 8, 2001, written by regular columnist and former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro “let’s fight a war with China” Ishihara) and an opinion piece by Ayako Sono on Feb. 11 that praised the racial segregation of South African apartheid as a model for Japanese immigration policy. The Fuji-Sankei group offers pretty much unwavering support to the country’s right-wing causes and talking points. They are further right than the Yomiuri — and that’s saying something. Before I get to why we should care, let’s look briefly at the existing landscape of the nation’s English-language media…

Read the rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/07/05/issues/media-redraw-battleines-bid-global-reach/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 31, 2015

Table of Contents:
HOW BAD IT’S GETTING
1)  Arimura Haruko, Minister for the Empowerment of Women: Immigration is a “Pandora’s Box”, offers weird Team Abe arguments to justify
2)  Online media outlet Japan Today acquired by right-wing Fuji Media Holdings, meaning Japan Times is last E-media news organization independent of J-media conglomerates
3)  J Times Kingston on Abe’s intimidation of media: You know it’s getting bad when even apologist bigot Gregory Clark complains about Rightists targeting him
4)  Debito.org Dejima Award #6 to Mishima Village, Kagoshima Prefecture, for subsidizing outsiders to move and live there — unless they are foreign
5)  Japan at Expo Milano 2015: Official display claims Japan is a land of “harmonious diversity” (in English). SRSLY? Yep. Let’s parse.
6)  Tangent: NYT Op-Ed: Foreigners Are Attacking … American TV, within US TV programs. Contrast with Japan.
… and finally …
7)  Japan Times JBC 87 May 4, 2015: Interview with M.G. Sheftall: “Japan-U.S. effort to tell Kamikaze suicide pilots’ stories dodges controversy, wins praise”

Online media outlet Japan Today acquired by right-wing Fuji Media Holdings, meaning Japan Times is last E-media news organization independent of J-media conglomerates

Something rather important happened within Japan’s English-language media landscape last month, and it’s only now starting (after some prodding) to come to light: Another NJ media voice has been absorbed by Japanese conglomerates: Japan Today, an online media outlet founded in 2001 by NJ.

This matters. Back in the 1990s we had a number of other outlets employing NJ reporters and offering a degree of news that served and spoke to the NJ communities in Japan (those that read English, anyway). Since then almost all of them have withered or winked out. Left-leaning Mainichi Shimbun succumbed to economic pressures and made its English-language daily into an online-only outlet that is a mere shadow publication (moreover succumbed to the pressure of online trolls by crucifying their reporters who dared translate scandalous Japanese tabloid media for their popular WaiWai column). The Centrist-Right Asahi Evening News, to bust their unionizing NJ employees, fired all of their reporters and now merely offers a translation service for what they write in Japanese (their presses closed down completely in 2010). Rightist Yomiuri Shinbun whitewashed itself by recently changing its name of its English-language publication from Daily Yomiuri to the anodyne and root-free The Japan News, and since it takes any criticism of Japan by a NJ as a personal affront, it basically marginalized its English-langauge staff into writing book reviews and fluff pieces before Asahi-ing them into proofreaders also. The last major national news outlet, the Sankei Shinbun, never bothered projecting their farther-right views into English. Until now, when it bought up Japan Today.

That just leaves the Japan Times as a serious news outlet outside of Japanese conglomerate control. I am proud to be amongst their ranks as a columnist pushing for media independence from a current political milieu under PM Abe increasingly intolerant of criticism. But even they have seen their Community Pages drop from four days per week to two. So support your Japan Times however and whenever you can, everyone. They’re all that are left, and if they get absorbed, it’s pretty clear that they’ll just become a mouthpiece for the Japanese corporate narrative all over again.

Japan Today: Narita airport ends ID security checks for non-passengers

JT: Narita International Airport on Monday abolished ID checks for non-passengers at the airport in Chiba Prefecture. Since the airport opened in 1978, cars and buses have been stopped at various points, with occupants having to show ID such as passports, even if they weren’t departing on flights. Drivers were also required to get out and open the trunk of their cars. The ID checks at railway ticket gates have also been scrapped. […] A state-of-the-art camera surveillance system consisting of 330 individual cameras will be used with 190 of the units dedicated to facial recognition and related tasks, while the other 140 would be monitoring the exterior of the buildings and tracking license plate numbers, suspicious behavior and other relevant security information.

COMMENT: One of the larger issues that Debito.org has taken up, that of Instant Gaijin Card Checkpoints (as in, racial profiling) for people for walking in public while NJ, might be (overtly) coming to an end, at least in the place where new entrants (and their entourage) get their first taste of it: Narita International Airport.

We have discussed Narita Airport’s treatment of NJ customers in detail before. According to the article below, they are installing spy cameras instead of having the labor-intensive (and unnecessarily invasive, given that the Narita Prefectural Police Force stoppages that Debito.org has concentrated on were targeting NJ who had ALREADY cleared security screenings) face-to-face singling out of people for extra scrutiny in a not-at-all-random manner. One might counterargue that this is swapping Big Brother for Bigger Brother. But I will still say that not having a potentially temperamental local cop, trained to see NJ as suspicous, getting into a jet-lagged person’s face is an improvement. Let’s at least see if this will make Narita Airport behave less like a fortress, with cops manning the pikes against the international hordes.

NYT Opinion: Mindy Kotler on “The Comfort Women and Japan’s War on Truth”, an excellent primer on the issue

Kotler: We know of Lieutenant Nakasone’s role in setting up a comfort station thanks to his 1978 memoir, “Commander of 3,000 Men at Age 23.” At that time, such accounts were relatively commonplace and uncontroversial — and no obstacle to a political career. From 1982 to 1987, Mr. Nakasone was the prime minister of Japan. Today, however, the Japanese military’s involvement in comfort stations is bitterly contested. The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is engaged in an all-out effort to portray the historical record as a tissue of lies designed to discredit the nation. Mr. Abe’s administration denies that imperial Japan ran a system of human trafficking and coerced prostitution, implying that comfort women were simply camp-following prostitutes.

The latest move came at the end of October when, with no intended irony, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party appointed Mr. Nakasone’s own son, former Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone, to chair a commission established to “consider concrete measures to restore Japan’s honor with regard to the comfort women issue.” The official narrative in Japan is fast becoming detached from reality, as it seeks to cast the Japanese people — rather than the comfort women of the Asia-Pacific theater — as the victims of this story. The Abe administration sees this historical revision as integral to restoring Japan’s imperial wartime honor and modern-day national pride. But the broader effect of the campaign has been to cause Japan to back away from international efforts against human rights abuses and to weaken its desire to be seen as a responsible partner in prosecuting possible war crimes.

PNS: Deaths of unknown persons in the custody of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police: At least 5 in past year

PNS: A troubling pattern of deaths of suspects in police custody is emerging in Tokyo, Japan. At least five people have died in police custody in the last year, with little publicity or investigation. The names of the victims have not apparently been released, which puts Japan at odds with international norms of transparency and police accountability.

Unknown man arrested May 12, 2014 in Meguro Ward
Unknown man arrested May 25, 2014 in Shinjuku
Unknown man arrested May 31, 2014 in Konan
Unknown man arrested August 25, 2014 in Shinagawa
Unknown man arrested February 11, 2015 in Akasaka

All cases have resulted in fatalities of those in custody.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 3, 2015

Table of Contents:
JAPARTHEID
1) Sankei columnist Sono Ayako advocates separation of NJ residential zones by race in Japan, cites Apartheid South Africa as example
2) Japan Times: Inflammatory articles (such as Sono Ayako’s “Japartheid” Sankei column) aren’t helping mags’ circulation numbers
3) Debito.org quoted in South China Morning Post about Sankei Shinbun’s Sono Ayako advocating Japartheid
BLACKFACE AND BLACKOUTS
4) Good JT article on historically-ignorant blackface on Japanese performers and “modern-day minstrel shows” in Japan
5) Kyodo: Foreign trainee slain, colleague wounded in rural Ibaraki attack, in oddly terse article
6) Japan Times: UK inspectors say Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers are like “prisons”. In fact, they’re worse.
7) Tangent: AFP/Jiji: “Workaholic Japan considers making it compulsory to take vacation days.” Good news, if enforceable
… and finally…
8 ) Japan Times JBC 84 Feb. 5, 2015, “At age 50, seeing the writing on the wall”

IPC Digital et al.: Shizuoka Iwata City General Hospital doctor refuses care to Brazilian child, curses out parents and tells them to “die” (kuso, shine)

IPC Digital via Google Translate (from Portuguese original): Video of alleged discrimination in hospital resonates with Japanese Internet:

The video shows a Brazilian accusing a doctor of refusing care and offended her daughter with curses, wishing his death (Kuso, Shine), reflected in forums of discussions and Japanese blogs. Dozens of posts in livedoor.biz blogs and other forums, highlighted the event… The vast majority of comments were against the alleged discrimination.

Some Japanese netizens pointed out that, despite the apparent exaltation of the father, the doctor should have attended the transfer request and that should never have used those words with the child. Even in anonymous forums where it is not necessary to identify to post a comment, most Internet users showed outrage at the perceived attitude of the doctor, saying that “certainly should be fired,” and that “the university should be responsible for the wrong attitudes of physicians.”

COMMENT: It has made the news. Unlike, say, this “Japanese Only” hospital reported on Debito.org back in 2012, which wound up being ignored by the local media. It pays to video these things — they go viral, and force apologies. Not sure how this will stop it from happening in future, but glad that somebody is paying attention this time. Portuguese videos first, then Portuguese article, Google translated version, and finally Japanese articles.

Georgetown prof Dr. Kevin Doak honored by Sakurai Yoshiko’s JINF group for concept of “civic nationalism” (as opposed to ethnic nationalism) in Japan

Dovetailing with our previous blog entry, I noticed within the ranks of Sakurai Yoshiko’s ultraconservative group Japan Institute for National Fundamentals the Guest Researcher Dr. Kevin Doak of Georgetown University. He was honored by them earlier this year:

Yomiuri: A professor of Georgetown University in Washington has been selected for his study of nationalism in modern Japan as the first recipient of a private award established to promote research on Japan by foreign scholars. “It truly is a privilege and gives me the great confidence to continue my study,” said Prof. Kevin Doak at a July 8 ceremony in Tokyo to announce recipients of the first Terada Mari Japan Study Award established by the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, a Tokyo-based think tank.

Doak, 54, received the Japan Study Award, top prize, for his 2009 book “A History of Nationalism in Modern Japan” (published in Japanese under the title “Ogoe de Utae ‘Kimigayo’ o”) and other works on Japan. In the book, he says English-language media do not necessarily provide correct explanations about nationalism in Japan. For instance, the book discusses a growing trend of “civic nationalism” in modern-day Japan, a concept opposite to ethnic nationalism. Civic nationalism, Doak writes, is based not on ethnic roots but on civic engagement such as having a sense of belonging to the Japanese community.

Academic colleague: “Kevin Doak is a serious scholar, but I don’t know what has been happening with him in recent years. The Japanese translation of this book is entitled 大声で歌え、君が代 or Lustily Sing the Kimigayo, and it is being marketed as a polemic in favour of patriotism, not as a detached academic tome. In part it seems the book has been hijacked by a publisher with an agenda — the two-star comment on Amazon Jp is instructive — but then how did Kevin allow them to do this? It would be interesting to compare the English and Japanese texts, if only life were not so short. This case bears comparison with the recent hoo-hah about Henry Scott-Stokes’ book, another publisher-driven right-wing venture.”

I of course respect the views of an academic colleague who has the training, knowledge, and rigor to express his views in a measured, balanced, and well-researched way. My comment is that his concept of civic nationalism (according to the Yomiuri writeup above) not being “based on ethnic roots, but on civic engagement such as having a sense of belonging to the Japanese community”, doesn’t quite square with my research on how “Japaneseness” is enforced not only through “Japanese Only” signs and rules, but also through the structure and enforcement of Japan’s legal and administrative systems. That I believe goes beyond civic engagement and into issues of ethnicity (and racialization processes). Perhaps someday we’ll have a chat about that.

Nikkei: Another Japanese nabbed for being like a “suspicious foreigner” in Ibaraki. Adding it to the collection

NH: According to the Nikkei, two weeks ago a no-good busybody “reported” to the police that there was a “suspicious foreigner” around. The police duly rushed to the scene and questioned a Philipino 20-year-old they found. They arrested him as caught in the act of not carrying his passport with him.

After 7 hours of questioning, through an interpreter it came to light he also had Japanese citizenship and his father is Japanese. They double-checked, and since it was true released him in the middle of the night. The police stated “We are sorry. We will try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The article and police statement does not find any fault with the person who reported a suspicious foreigner, or with the police for going and questioning people alleged to be suspicious foreigners. That is pretty much just the whole story. It’s not a bad law exam question, since we could ask, did he have to give up his Filipino citizenship now that he is 20, etc.? The article doesn’t go there either, of course. Another example of this law’s failure to account for Japan’s diverse population, and people getting caught in the cross-fire. I can only imagine how this young man felt about all of this.

COMMENT: I can imagine. I myself have been racially profiled (although not arrested) by J-cops on numerous occasions (see here and here, for example), even after naturalizing. So were these people (one of whom actually was arrested in 2006 for looking “too foreign”.) This is yet another reason why Japan needs laws against racial discrimination — because you can’t always tell anymore who’s “Japanese” based upon physical appearance alone. Innocent Japanese who don’t “look it” are going to get caught in any dragnet of suspicion.

Japan’s Right-wing swing taking on NJ media: Foreign correspondents ‘blindly swallowing’ anti-Japanese propaganda, writer alleges

As Japan’s right-wing swing begins to be noticed and acknowledged overseas (I predicted this swing would happen quite a while ago), foreign media are increasingly taking off the kid gloves, and dealing forcefully with Japan’s perpetual historical amnesia. So much so that it’s making some Japanese opinion leaders uncomfortable, and, as the article below attests, they’re pushing back against the apparent gaiatsu by claiming the foreign correspondents are succumbing to “propaganda”. Have a read.

Within, note how opportunist NJ panderer Henry Scott-Stokes is being tossed around like a ball in play as evidence of something (hey, revisionism has more credibility if someone, anyone, from the NJ side will parrot their views). Debito.org has already covered the profiteering that some NJ (particularly those who have no idea what has been written for them in Japanese) will engage in. Shame on them for becoming the monkey to the organ grinder.

As a bracing counterpose, check out this other extremely angry article by Robert Fisk in the UK Independent on the Abe Administration and Japan’s burgeoning (and hypocritical) revisionism; he’s clearly commenting outside of his comfort zone, but this is what will increasingly come out as the mask of “peaceful Western ally” that Japan’s elites have shamelessly worn for two generations continues to slip. And this generation of elites, who have never known war (and will never have to serve even if there ever is one), will continue to extol the glory of it.

Former PM and Tokyo 2020 Chair Mori bashes his Olympic athletes, including “naturalized citizens” Chris and Cathy Reed (PLUS article on J athletes’ shortened lifespans due to the pressure)

Aaand, the inevitable has happened: Japan’s apparently underperforming athletes (particularly its ice skaters) have invited criticism from Japan’s elite. Tokyo 2020 Chair Mori Yoshiro, one of Japan’s biggest gaffemeisters when he served an abysmal stint as Prime Minister, decided to shoot his mouth off about champion skater Asada Mao’s propensity to choke under pressure. But more importantly, as far as Debito.org is concerned, about how the American-Japanese skating siblings Cathy and Chris Reed’s racial background has negatively affected their performance:

“They live in America,” Mori said. “Although they are not good enough for the U.S. team in the Olympics, we included these naturalized citizens on the team.”

Oh. But wait. They’re not naturalized. They always had Japanese citizenship, since their mother is Japanese. And how about Japan’s other athletes that also train if not live overseas (such as Gold Medalist Skater Hanyu Yuzuru, who now hails from Toronto)? Oh, but he won, so that’s okay. He’s a real pureblooded Japanese with the requisite yamato damashi.

In fact, the existence of people like Mori are exactly the reason why Japan’s athletes choke. As I’ve written before, they put so much pressure and expectation on them to perform perfectly as national representatives, not as individuals trying to achieve their personal best, so if they don’t medal (or worse yet, don’t Gold), they are a national shame. It’s a very high-stakes game for Japan’s international athletes, and this much pressure is counterproductive for Japan: It in fact shortens their lives not only as competitors, but as human beings (see article by Mark Schreiber after the Japanese articles).

Fortunately, this has not escaped the world media’s glance. As CBS News put it: “Hurray for the Olympic spirit! You seem like a perfectly sensible choice to head a billion-dollar effort to welcome the world to Tokyo, Mr. Mori!” But expect more of this, for this is how “sporting spirit” is hard-wired in Japan. Because these types of people (especially their invisible counterparts in the media and internet) are not only unaccountable, they’re devoid of any self-awareness or empathy. If they think they can do better, as one brash Japanese Olympic swimmer once said, why don’t they try doing it themselves? Then she was taken off the team, never to return.

Post-passage of State Secrets Bill, watch as Abe further dismantles Japan’s postwar anti-fascism safeguards

My conclusions first: If you really want to “look on the bright side” of recent events, we could say “we live in interesting times”. Given the normally glacial pace of reforms in Japan, the Abe Administration is proceeding with incredible speed — which he can do, given LDP control over both houses of Parliament. It’s a pity that things are heading in the Rightist direction, dismantling the Postwar order of governance and the safeguards against Prewar fascism faster than the public or media can keep up.

As discussed here before Debito.org got tackled, both inside and outside observers (including the UN) were alarmed at the contents of the State Secrets Protection Law (himitsu hogo hou), the one that leaves vague what a “government secret” is exactly (for better public non-transparency), and offers criminal penalties of up to ten years’ incarceration for violators, including journalists. The tone of this law is pretty clear: Anyone who gets in the way (and according to LDP Secretary General and defense policy wonk Ishiba Shigeru, “noisy” protestors will be labeled “terrorists”; I’m waiting for Ishiba to say the same thing about the perennially noisy, intimidating, and sometimes violent right-wing sound trucks) will be dealt with accordingly.

Debito.org said that the protests in any case were too little, too late, and it would make no difference. It didn’t (except in Abe’s approval ratings, which dipped below 50% for the first time for this administration; never mind — a few more saber rattlings with the Chinese bogeyman will remedy that), and the bill was rammed through both the Lower and Upper Houses and is now law. SITYS.

This after, as also noted on Debito.org previously, Abe’s Gaijin Handlers were sent off on a mission to placate the one country that might get them to avert this course: The United States. Top Abe advisor Kitaoka Shin’ichi recently visited Hawaii and points mainland to sell Japan’s remilitarization as a means to help America’s security exploits abroad, saying it would be possible by a mere circumvention of the Constitution by reinterpretation. Who needs to go through that laborious process of actual Constitutional revision when you can just ignore it? And it seems the Americans have signed off on it. And on Japan’s new protection measures of “state secrets”. And on a creation of a National Security Council that reports to Abe, modeled on the USG’s NSC, so who could object? Checkmate.

Look, some people might be surprised by all this, but I’m not. Debito.org saw this coming more than ten years ago, and watched it play out since 2000 as innate fears of outsiders in general were made into public policy seeing foreigners as criminals, then terrorists etc. Now. it’s Chinese foreigners in specific (what with the two-plus “Lost Decades” of stagnant to negative growth causing Japan to be eclipsed by China as the largest economy in the region). I’ve charted the arc of this public debate here in a paper for Japan Focus, showing how officially-sponsored xenophobia was used to undermine, then decimate, Japan’s Left. And with no opposition Left, there’s nothing to stop a dedicated silver-spoon elite like Abe, who has known no war (and accepts no responsibility for Japan’s historical role in it), for swinging the pendulum the furthest Right it has been in the Postwar Era. Provided his health holds up, he’s got three years to do it. Just watch him do it as quickly as possible.

Scholar Morris-Suzuki on the rebranding of PM Abe for foreign consumption, contrasted with his “reverse postwar political reforms” goals set out in his manifesto

Morris-Suzuki: The current popularity of the Abe administration in no way reflects public enthusiasm for these grand political designs. It is, instead, a response to the government’s economic stimulus package, and to Abe’s skill in making optimistic statements, which convey a sense of leadership to a population weary of political uncertainty and economic malaise. In the end, the Abe government’s performance should and will be judged, not on any political labels, but on the impact that it has on Japanese society and on Japan’s relations with its region and the world. It is possible that Abe may yet choose to focus on the vital tasks of creating a basis for a strong Japanese economic future and improving relations with Japan’s neighbours, rather than pursuing the ideological agendas of anti-liberalism and “escape from the postwar regime”.

In the meanwhile, though, those who care about the future of Japanese society should not allow the dazzle of verbal juggling to induce a political version of the Gruen Transfer. The prime minister’s ideology may be re-branded for the global market, but the old adage remains: buyer beware.

KAJ and Debito.org on foreign crime and racial profiling in Japan: statistical hocus-pocus

A few days ago KAJ, the editor of MRbloggen, a Norwegian human rights blog, sent me a very insightful article on racial profiling and foreign crime reportage in Japan. Let me excerpt from KAJ and from some writing I’m doing:

KAJ: On 26 May 2013, a large mass demonstration demanding the eradication of foreign crimes and the expulsion of illegal immigrants was commenced in Tokyo. The demonstration ran for approximately two hours (between 11:00 – 13:00) starting from Shinjuku Park. In a statement calling for participation of the Japanese public, it was noted that “this demonstration is not a demonstration against foreign crime specific. It is a demonstration for the expulsion of all bad foreigners” [translated]. The procession of the demonstration can be viewed here. This is not the first time such mass distress against foreign crimes occured. So the question that should be asked is, is foreign crimes really a problem in Japan? What may have caused Japanese to fear foreign criminals?

COMMENT: The NPA’s annual White Papers on crime illustrate how crime reportage in Japan is differentiated into “kokumin versus gaikokujin”, with no comparison between them in scope or scale: Note the difference. Comparing a base year of 2009 (H.21), there were a total of 30,569 total cleared cases of crime committed by all foreign nationals (blue plus red bars). For kokumin, corresponding thefts and regular penal offenses not including traffic violations (purple bar, on a scale of 万件) total to over 1.5 million cases, or a difference of about a factor of 49. If put on the same chart with the same scale, foreign crime numbers would thus be practically invisible compared to kokumin crime numbers. However, the NPA has chosen to avoid this comparison, focusing instead on the rise and fall – mostly the purported rise – of foreign crime…

UPDATE June 24 2013: A Reader sends in “Gaijin Crime” [sic] stats from the Shizuoka Pref. Police website that similarly try to visually accentuate any rises they can. This is the group that put out the racist “Characteristics of Foreign Crime” pamphlet back in 2000. Still up to their old tricks.

Interesting cases: naturalized Japanese sues city councilor fiance who jilted her for Korean ethnicity, Pakistani parents file criminal complaint for injurious school bullying, Hatoyama Yukio officially called “traitor” for not toeing official party line on Senkaku/Nanjing issues

Here are a couple of interesting cases that have fallen through the cracks recently, what with all the higher-level geopolitical flurry and consequent hate speech garnering so much attention. With not much to link them thematically except that these are complaints made into public disputes, let me combine them into one blog post and let them stand for themselves as bellwethers of the times.

First up, we have a criminal complaint filed with the police for classroom bullying resulting in serious injury due to his Pakistani ethnicity. This is one of a long line of cases of ethnic bullying in Japan, once again with insufficient intervention by authorities, and we’re lucky this time it hasn’t resulted yet in PTSD or a suicide. Like it has in these cases here with an ethnic Chinese schoolgirl, with an Indian student in 2007, or a Filipina-Japanese student in 2010 (in the last case NHK neglected to mention ethnicity as an issue). Of course, even here the Mainichi declines to give the name of the school involved. Whatever happened to perennial promises of a “major bullying study” at the ministerial level a couple of years ago to prevent things like this? Or of grassroots NGO actions way back when?

Next, here’s an article about a victim fighting back. We have a thirty-something city councilor (in another unnamed local government in Hyougo-Ken) who proposed (in writing) to a woman (now 28, who accepted), then broke it off as soon as he heard that she was a Japanese citizen with a Zainichi Korean grandfather (horrors — how that might damage his political career!, he said). So in October of last year (appearing in an article dated January 28, 2013), she sued him for 2.4 million yen. Stay tuned. Interesting to see if the outcome will indicate how, once again, naturalization still doesn’t make a former NJ a “real Japanese” in elite society’s eyes:

And finally, courtesy of japanCRUSH last January, we have this interesting titbit: “Japanese defense minister Onodera Itsunori is the latest politician to enter the fray by calling former prime minister Hatoyama Yukio a ‘traitor’ on a television programme. Onodera’s remark came after Hatoyama commented to Chinese officials that the Senkaku Islands should be recognised as disputed territory, rather than Japanese territory, during his trip to China. Interestingly, Hatoyama caused further controversy this week when he apologised for the Nanjing massacre.”

So this is what it’s coming to. Dissent from prominent Japanese (who, in Hatoyama’s case, are no longer even political representatives) who act on their conscience, deviate from the saber-rattling party line, and show any efforts at reconciliation in this era of regional brinkmanship get decried as “traitors”. Doesn’t seem like there is much space for tolerance of moderate or diverse views (or people) anymore.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 4, 2013

Table of Contents:
WEIRD STUFF
1) Sankei Sports etc: J soccer player Nakamura Yuuki quits Slovakian club, feels victimized by “racial discrimination”; my, how ironic!
2) NYT: Xenophobia in Environmental Ministry re exclusionary Fukushima decontam efforts: “Japanese soil is different”, “NJ assistance might scare local grandmas”
3) NHK on Fukushima: Offering all-expense-paid junkets to NJ journalists, interviews for NJ residents who experienced disasters. What’s the catch?
4) Asahi: Media-fostered xenophobia forces prefectural countermeasures against NJ buying “strategic land”

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
5) Book Review: “At Home Abroad” by Adam Komisarof, a survey of assimilation/integration strategies into Japan (interviews include Keene, Richie, Kahl, Pakkun, and Arudou)
6) Update: JA and PTA’s Chagurin Magazine responds to protests re Tsutsumi Mika’s “Children within the Poverty Country of America” article for 6th-Grade kids
7) Interesting lawsuits: French “Flyjin” sues employer NHK for firing her during Fukushima Crisis, 8 US sailors sue TEPCO for lying about radiation dangers
8 ) US Senator Daniel Inouye dies, Mazie Hirono Becomes First U.S. Senator Born in Japan; contrast with do-nothing self-gaijinizing Tsurunen
9) Beate Sirota Gordon, one architect of the Postwar Japanese Constitution, dies at 89, her goals uncompleted if not currently being undone
10) Proposal: Establishing a Debito.org YouTube Channel?
… and finally …
11) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 59: The year for NJ in 2012: a Top 10

Irony: GOJ pushes citizen ID law despite outcry over J privacy rights. Sadly, never similar concerns for NJ privacy, natch.

As a follow-up to the Debito.org post a few weeks ago on putting trackable chips on all non-citizens, we have the same kind of push happening for Japan’s citizens (as per this old article that got buried in my draft blog posts, sorry) for very different express reasons (except for the oft-claimed “convenience” of those being identified, with the unescapable whiff of policing). That said, note how whenever there is an issue involving the infringement of civil/human rights for “citizens”, there is also an ameliorating push to protect those rights with legislation (see second article below). For “foreigners”, however, all civil, political, and human rights are essentially left to the mandate of the policing Ministry of Justice, which frequently makes a hash of things. But all this public concern over, say, privacy rights (whereas foreigners in Japan have had no guaranteed right to privacy in the Postwar Era, since the creation of the Foreign Registry Law)… Again, it’s one differentiation within Japan’s discourse that alienates Newcomers and Oldcomers, and sets the stage for making disenfranchised exceptions for people who don’t appear to be “Japanese”. Have a think about this dichotomy, and how the GOJ a) normalizes discrimination, while b) ironically tries to foist the same style of rights abrogations on the general public that have been long-tested upon the “gaijin guinea pigs”.

Japan Press: The Noda Cabinet approved bills at its meeting on February 14 that will assign an identification number to every citizen and every company, without regard to concerns over privacy abuse or to apprehensions about the possibility of having to pay more in taxes in order to receive better welfare services. The identification system will collate personal information currently administrated under different programs such as for pension, healthcare, and taxation. The government states that it wants to implement a national ID system in January 2015.

There is now growing concern that such a national identity system could lead to invasion of privacy issues and may also be used to restrict government social security payments. The government claims that a national ID system will provide easier access to social welfare programs for low-income families. If that is the aim, it can use other means to provide benefits. What is the government’s true motive?

Shuukan Kin’youbi: Protests against NJ businesses in Tokyo turn ugly, yet J media compares Chinese protests against J businesses to Kristallnacht

Something came up over the past month that deserves mention on Debito.org when it comes to putting all the “violent protests against Japan” into some perspective. Something that was not given much audience in the Japanese media — far-rightists targeting domestic minorities in Japan due to the recent flap over some offshore rocks.

Yes, people say “both sides are guilty of saber rattling and banging nationalist drums.” But one thing I like to remind people is: Who picked this most recent fight over the Senkakus? And who keeps perpetually stirring things up by having what I would consider a denialist view of history when it comes to being an aggressor and colonizer over the past hundred years? Sorry, but many of Japan’s prominent leaders do. And they (deliberately, in this case) serve to stir up passions overseas. Then when people overseas protest this, who then suddenly claims that the foreigners are overreacting or Japanese are being targeted and victimized? Japan’s leaders. And Japan’s media, to rally the rest of the public.

However, Japan’s victimization trope is being overplayed. Japanese media, according to the Japan Times, is turning up the invective to compare Chinese protests to Kristallnacht.

Well, consider the following domestic actions by Japanese far-rightists against not just foreign business communities overseas, but actual NJ residents of Japan who have been living in Japan for generations (who, by all reasonable standards — including fighting and dying for the Japanese Empire — should be Japanese citizens by now). Are we seeing the same comparisons to Krystallnacht? And will we see those comparisons in the media once we get glass in the gutter and bloodied faces? If the standard for violence in Japan is also “verbal” (as in kotoba no bouryoku), then we’re on our way.

Stop it, everyone, before you do something you might regret later. (Then again, perhaps not, if Japan’s revisionist attitudes towards history continue to hold sway.)

Congratulations Donald Keene on getting Japanese citizenship. Now stop making yourself out to be somehow morally superior to NJ.

Good news. Congratulations to The Don for getting his Japanese citizenship, and on what looks to be an expedited schedule (of course; the guy is in his ninetieth year!). I think it’s good that an old man can realize his twilight dreams, and take advantage of opportunities that he has clearly earned as a contributor to Japan in the world.

That said, I don’t believe that gives him license to continuously bad-mouth other NJ, whom he yet again essentially accuses of desertion, according to the Asahi article trumpeting the news of his successful application below (translation mine):

“…[Keene] received Japanese Permanent Residency, but after the Great East Japan Earthquake, knowing about the large numbers of foreigners that distanced themselves from Japan, he said, ‘I came to Japan, where I will always stay. I believe in Japan, is what I wanted to broadcast.'”

The Yomiuri adds: Worried over the news that an increasing number of foreigners were leaving the country, Keene made up his mind to permanently live in Japan. “I wanted to endure the hardships with the Japanese, who had taken good care of me, at a difficult time like this,” he said… Starting next month, he will travel by ship to India and Africa for vacation.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 5, 2012

Table of Contents:
HISTORICAL WRONGS, ABERRATIONS, AND AMNESIA
1) Levin: J citizens of empire stripped of Japanese nationality in 1952, made into Zainichi by bureaucratic fiat — by a simple MOJ office circular (kairan)!
2) Mainichi and JT: Nagoya mayor Kawamura repeatedly denies Nanjing Massacre, joins ranks of revisionist J politicians
3) Mainichi/Kyodo: NJ crime down again, but once again only reported in English and apparently not in J Mainichi, Asahi, Yomiuri, or Sankei
4) Mainichi: NHK Press publishes book about NJ “underground reality” (e.g., prostitution, fake marriages and citizenships, profiteering). Contrast with interview with freewheeling cannibal Sagawa Issei.

BLOWBACK
5) Yomiuri: Language hurdle trips up Indonesian nurses in 4-year-old GOJ EPA program, and they’re leaving. By design, methinks.
6) Asahi: Registered NJ population drops again in 2010, GOJ to institute policy of “points system” for future NJ visas this Spring
7) Mainichi: NJ held by immigration sharply down after reviewing rules
8 ) Jeff Smith on Yahoo Japan auctioneer denying foreign bidders, and what he did about it

… and finally…
9) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column #48: “These are a few of my favorite things about Japan”, Feb. 7, 2012

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 11, 2011

Table of Contents:

TOPICS OF PERSONAL INTEREST
1) Warning to Debito.org Commenters about being cyber-stalked; don’t use your real name as moniker anymore
2) Post #2000! Special Discussion: Making “friends” in Japan, successfully?
3) FCCJ Book Break evening June 28 for my book IN APPROPRIATE in Yurakucho, Tokyo. Let me know if you want to go.
4) Review of IN APPROPRIATE and interview at JETAA-NY’s Examiner.com
5) IN APPROPRIATE now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble
6) Donald Keene to naturalize, in a show of solidarity with the Japanese people, at age 88
7) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST MAY 7, 2011: Speech at Otaru Shoudai Dec 5, 2011: “The Otaru Onsens Case, Ten Years On”
8 ) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JUNE 1, 2011

AFTERSHOCKS OF 3/11
9) Columnist Dan Gardner: “Why Japan took the nuclear risk”: Quick-fix energy during 1973-4 Oil Shocks
10) Kansai Time Out Feb ’08 on “Power and the People: Masaki Hisane keeps watch on Japan’s nuclear industry”
11) AFP: Japan tells tourists says ‘it’s safe’ to come back, with budgets to dispel “public misperceptions about the effects of the nuclear disaster”
12) Ekonomisuto gives better articles on effects of both NJ leaving Japan and tourists avoiding Japan
13) Nikkei reports on the effect of “nihon saru gaikokujin”, aka Fly-jin, with some pretty shaky journalistic practices
14) Mainichi: “Industries left short-handed after NJ workers flee Japan following nuke accident”
15) Zakzak headlines that NJ part-time staff flee Yoshinoya restaurant chain, and somehow threaten its profitability
16) JT/Kyodo: NJ key to Japan’s recovery, says Iokibe Makoto, chair of GOJ Reconstruction Design Council. Well, fancy that.
17) Nikkei Business magazine special (May 2, 2011) on the future and necessity of NJ labor to Japan
18) Sankei: MOJ proposes easier visas for importing “higher quality” NJ labor; neglects to offer NJ stronger civil or labor rights
19) Christopher Dillon, author of “LANDED: The Guide to Buying Property in Japan”, on earthquake insurance in Japan
20) Mainichi: “American teacher in Sendai stays in Japan to help with volunteer efforts”
21) Mainichi: “Many foreign residents wish to stay in Japan despite disaster: survey”
22) Tangent: “Foreigners Looking to Adopt Japanese Earthquake Orphans Need Not Apply”

… and finally …
23) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 39: “Better to be branded a ‘flyjin’ than a man of the ‘sheeple'” (May 3, 2011)
(This is a culmination of all the articles cited above.)

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 15, 2011

Table of Contents:

NJ PORTRAYED AS PART OF THE PROBLEM

1) Asahi Tensei Jingo (Vox Populi) Mar 20 offers ponderous column with gratuitous alienation of NJ
2) Wall Street Journal joins in bashing alleged NJ “fly-jin exodus”: “Expatriates tiptoe back to the office”
3) Tokyo Sports Shinbun blames closure of Tokyo Disneyland not on power outages, but on NJ!
4) Rumors of “Foreign Crime Gangs”; rapes and muggings, while tabloids headline “all NJ have flown Japan” etc.
5) SNA: “GOJ targets harmful internet rumors”, including the earthquake being caused by foreign terrorism
6) Tokyo Governor Election April 10 posts “expel the barbarians, Japan for the Japanese” openly xenophobic candidate, gets over 6000 votes

NJ AS PART OF THE SOLUTION

7) NJ helping Japan during this crisis: James Gibbs on his Miyagi Rescue Efforts
8 ) John Harris on how Coca Cola could help Japan save a nuclear power plant’s worth of power: Switch off their 5.5 million vending machines
9) Thinking of donating blood in Japan? Mutantfrog translates the regulations on who can’t.

RELATED ARTICLES OF NOTE

9) Tokyo Gov Ishihara calls the tsunami “divine punishment” to wipe out the “egoism” of Japan. Yet wins reelection.
10) The Nation.com on Tohoku Earthquake has shaken Japan Inc.
11) AOL News: WikiLeaks: Cables Show Japan Was Warned About Nuclear Plant Safety
12) Weekend Tangent: NYT: “Japanese Workers Braved Radiation for a Temp Job” in Japan’s nuclear industry
13) Japanese cartoon for kids depicting Fukushima nuclear issue as power plants with constipation!

… and finally…

14) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 38, April 5, 2011 on Tohoku: “Letting radiation leak, but never information”